FORT BENNING, Ga. (July 1, 2015) -- More than 20 senior enlisted leaders from Brazil and Colombia visited Fort Benning, Georgia, and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, June 14-25, to discuss increasing the development of their noncommissioned officer, or NCO, corps with senior enlisted leaders from the U.S. military.

The delegation, led by the sergeant major of the Colombian army, represents the Joint Senior Enlisted Development Program in Colombia, which provides instruction to enlisted members of militaries throughout the region.

The visit to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or WHINSEC, on Fort Benning, included discussions focused on the U.S. NCO professional development and education system. The partner nation senior leaders were also made aware of the opportunities available to them to attend and even teach courses at WHINSEC.

"This event is very important to us and our country especially at the NCO school in Colombia because this helps us strengthen our knowledge about leadership and teamwork, which is what our students are learning," said Command Sgt. Maj. Libardo Doncel, command sergeant major of the Colombian army's NCO schools.

The U.S. delegation included senior enlisted leaders from U.S. Army South, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Special Operations South, U.S. Marine Corps Forces South, Combined Arms Center, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and WHINSEC.

Participants from the partner nations said they were interested in learning from their U.S. military counterparts. They asked a lot of questions and engaged in detailed discussions.

"This type of partnership with your country is what helps make the changes," said Sgt. Maj. of the Colombian army Asdrubal Melo. "As I go back to my country to make decisions, I will talk to my general about our training, our doctrine, and our leadership to show him how we can process all that better according to the knowledge I got from this visit."

This engagement was more than just helping the partner nations. The U.S. delegation also learned from it's counterparts.

"We have a tremendous partnership with these countries and we take every opportunity to help them develop their NCO corps," said Command Sgt. Maj. William Zaiser, U.S. Southern Command command senior enlisted leader. "Having these senior enlisted leaders here, for this event, allows for a great exchange of ideas where we learn just as much from them as they do from us."

Through the many briefs and discussions, all of the participants agreed on the importance of delegating authority to noncommissioned officers, allowing officers to save time and extend the operational and tactical reach of any army.

"The militaries of both Brazil and Colombia have shown that they take the development of noncommissioned officers seriously," said Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Olvera, Army South command sergeant major. "This visit is a great example of us working together with our partners on leadership development, which helps build their capacity. The combined commitment to security in the region shows that Army South continues to be a regionally engaged, partner of choice."